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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Small Lot Subdivision, Wabi Sabi, Venice Median Rezoning Were on Agenda for last VNC Meet of 2019

By Angela McGregor

Despite the presence of two contentious motions brought forward by stakeholder petitions (and drawing a large crowd of would-be commenters), the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) chose to front-load their December 2019 meeting with a long list of Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) items requiring length presentations and discussions.

701 Vernon Ave
One of these — the project at what is currently 701 Vernon Avenue — would have converted a single, 6300 square foot lot into two parcels, each featuring a large, single-family home. While LUPC recommended the project as presented, discussion on the Board focused on the misuse of the small lot subdivision ordinance, which was initially implemented in order to increase density (and therefore affordability) in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like Venice, but instead has been used by developers to increase the amount of money per square foot they can glean from local real estate.

This, along with the project’s implementation of a roof-deck in order to bypass the Venice Specific plan’s height restrictions, resulted not only in the motion to approve the project failing, but a subsequent motion to deny the project passing (in both cases with votes of 10-8-2). A denial by the VNC of a particular project still allows the applicant to re-submit their project to LUPC at a later date once it has been substantially changed.

Rebuild of Wabi Sabi
The re-building of the former Wabi Sabi location was also on the evening’s agenda. The sushi restaurant at 1635 Abbot Kinney was devastated by a fire about a year ago and subsequently ordered to rebuild, even though the neighborhood favorite has since moved to another location. The owners wish to start construction on a new restaurant space in April (a new tenant — as yet undisclosed — has been found), which would be open until 1 am and serve breakfast and brunch on the weekends. The proposal easily passed the Board — 18-0-2.

Zone Change for Venice Median was Voted Down
It was well past 9:30 pm when the Board finally heard the motion the majority of the crowd had come for — the denial of a zone change from open space to commercial for the Venice Median (the proposed site of a low income housing/retail project), primarily due the imminent impacts of climate change and a rise in sea level.

Eva Greene (175 stakeholders signed the petition which placed the motion on the agenda) delivered a detailed, 10-minute power point presentation which gave the history of flooding woes in Venice (in particular the El Nino of 1982-83 which resulted in severe flooding of Venice Boulevard) and its vulnerability to the increasing impacts of climate change. Complicating matters is the fact that, with the shift in funding of the project from Prop HHH funds, which are now entirely earmarked to Prop 2 funds, the project must now be used to house the severely mentally ill, a replacement parking lot, and various retail establishments.

All but two of the intrepid public speakers who had stayed for the motion were in favor of it. Several pointed out that alternative solutions, which would house more homeless at a more cost-effective, less climate-vulnerable location, have been proposed, such as shared housing solutions currently being implemented by Venetians Heidi Roberts and John Betz, or the proposal for a project near LAX by VNC Board member Jim Murez. Others pointed out that the current estimate of $90 million to complete the project was simply an egregious waste of tax payer dollars for a facility that might be underwater or sold to a private developer after a mere 30 years.

Board comment focused on the zoning issue rather than the particulars of the proposed project. Board President Ira Koslow pointed out that the VNC has already voted on the issue of this project three times.   In response to this, Mark Ryavec pointed out that, according to the City Charter, any change in zoning is required to first be brought before the Neighborhood Council prior to any specific plans for a given site being made, and in this case, the city had failed to do that.

Therefore, a vote specifically addressing the change in zoning was both essential and important. LUPC Chair Alix Glucovsky pointed out that “conversations about the impact of sea level rise” are going on all over the country in flood prone areas, from Florida to Texas, and that several of these communities had banned dense residential development in flood zones for this reason.

In opposition, Board member Matt Fisher stated that the project was already a “done deal” and he would “see you at the ribbon cutting.” Homeless Committee Chair Charles Rials stated that “if you’re going to come with a motion that blocks housing in Venice, then you need to come with a solution” and called the motion “redundant.” The motion passed, 13-6-1. A subsequent motion, to file the item as a Community Impact Statement, was tabled until the next meeting.

No Confidence Motion for Councilman was Delayed to February Meet
The final item on the evening’s agenda was a motion to issue a vote of “no confidence” in CD11 Councilmember Mike Bonin. A motion to delay a vote on this item was immediately entered, and the majority of board members in favor of a delay noted that the motion (put forward by Venice Stakeholder Nick Antonicello) is vague, overly general, does not cite the recent Venice Stakeholders Survey (which indicated broad-based dissatisfaction with Bonin) or recommend specific ways in which the Councilman could address their dissatisfaction. The motion to delay the motion passed, 11-7-1, and it will be taken up at the next VNC Board meeting, which will be held 18 February 2020 at 7 pm.

There will be no VNC Board meeting in January in order that the Board may instead attend a Board Retreat.

Comments (10)

  1. Robert Mueller

    This is the reason Trump is in the White House

  2. Rick Swinger

    Bozo Bravo There is no such thing as affordable housing at $900,000 per unit to build. You actually make less units for less people that way and you also increase the value of muti-family units for now they can say it takes $900,000 per single unit to recreate. Comparison apartment values go up because of this. Now everything got more expensive including Venice Beach real estate. Just what you wanted right Mike? You should of take that HHH money and invest it where it does the most good for the most people. Yes you leverage the money you have and not squandered it so you have enough for everybody. Common sense thats not so common anymore.

    • Tucker

      Rick you need to re-think your situation and Vote Trump in 2020. All these post are doing wonders for his campaign. Thanks for helping to get the Donald re-elected

      • Rick Swinger

        Tucker Wow! I didn’t know I was that influential. The reality is the Far Left Progressive Democrats like Councilmember Mike Bonin, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Gov. Newsom will get Trump reelected. Many folks like myself will vote for the person/issues and not necessarily the party. The Democratic party lost a huge amount of Environmentalist recently for its obvious to most if you can’t take care of your own backyard how can you effectively govern others?Here is the proof the Far left wing Progressives have lost the Environmental high ground! We have seen evidence for a long time and so have these Major Environmental Groups according to this LA Times Article…Last spring, more than 100 environmental and preservationist organizations, including Sierra Club California, Natural Resources Defense Council and California Environmental Justice Alliance, sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, urging the state to keep the law intact. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-01-08/affordable-housing-homeless-shelter-bill-bypass-environmental-law-ceqa?fbclid=IwAR2tz7KO3z8flsGxsdUiY3Dd-P6ILfAhIVFXjezmSosYHX-XWnZnZJ6GR8U

        • Tucker

          Rick, Trump knows how to deal with the far left. Just waiting for the residents of Venice to wake up from the dream and Biden is just more of the same.

    • Homeless Joe

      Rick Homeless Joe here, Just wanted to let you know. I am just as mad at Bonin as you are. Millions of dollars have disappeared into Bonins hands that have been slated for the homeless. So when I take a dump in your area Bonin gets the money and you have to pay for it. I figured every time I take a dump it cost you 5 grand. Rick sometimes I take two dumps a day to make sure you get your moneys worth.

  3. Don’t forget to mention a couple projects where the board members, some who are members of Fight Back Venice, voted away affordable housing units thereby contributing to the precipitation and perpetuation of the “homelessness problem” they despise so much… and in the same sitting make moves to deny housing opportunities. Voting away and denying housing yet complaining about homelessness.. what the diagnosis for that?

  4. Vicki

    Can’t imagine that a touchy feely retreat will accomplish much for this board. If they want to take a month off, fine, but I don’t think they’ll come back in January singing Kumbaya in unison.

  5. reta

    All commenters please use your real names. It makes for a better comment blog. Try to make your comments regarding events, not being nasty toward people. Thank you.

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